Last Friday, I met with some DuPage County State Representatives to talk about Google tools and how they can use these free products to communication and manage their constituencies. Our conversation naturally moved into the discussion of our tools within campaigns.
I discussed with them the notion that by simply using a wide range of free widely-available consumer tools, one could pull together an advocacy site in a few hours. From creating a site that is petition driven (this is what I could have done with DraftDitka.com today!) or using maps to "show off" actions around their Districts, Legislators today should be moving quickly and frequently (try something an if it doesn't stick, abandon it).
Leaving the meeting, I figured I should put my money where mouth was: I needed to build an example site for them using the very tools I outlined.
ElmhurstStinks.com - a site dedicated to encouraging the City of Elmhurst to do something about the skunk problem in town (during the spring/summer/fall it is pretty bad!). I used Google Sites to create the site, docs for all the forms, maps for...well...maps. And...FeedBurner is powering the email list. All free tools. The only thing that cost anything was the $8 domain from GoDaddy. Google sites allows you to use custom domains, so for me - going forward - there is really no real need to ever pay for hosting for sites again!
I think the site turned out pretty well - and I'm looking forward to the spring when skunks show up and we can start to get real data in to the site. I'm still noodling some marketing tools to get folks to actually use it. (Despite my sister Vic being TOTALLY opposed to killing the "poor" animals!)